Leonidas was the Spartan king who famously led a small band of Greek allies at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BCE where the Greeks valiantly defended the pass through which the Persian king Xerxes sought to invade Greece with his massive army. Ultimately, Leonidas and his men were wiped out, but they bought the Greek city-states valuable time and gave an inspirational example, not only of what Greek hoplites could achieve against the invading forces but also of the price Greeks were willing to pay to maintain their freedom from foreign oppression.
Herodotus in his Histories describes the family lineage of Leonidas which could be traced back 20 generations to the mythical hero Hercules. Leonidas’ father was the Spartan king Anaxandrides, himself the son of King Leon.
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